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Joni Girardi: On the importance of seamless data access

As founder and CEO of business-intelligence provider DataSelf, Joni Girardi is an expert in optimizing data analytics and providing easy-to-use tools for mid-sized companies to rival that of Fortune 2000 companies. DataSelf recently announced their next-generation analytics project: a redesign of their award-winning ETL+™ (Extract, Transform, Load) technology.

Girardi spoke to The Edge about the exciting tools that DataSelf offers (DataSelf ETL+, Tableau, Power BI, and more!) and how data can be harnessed for improved business performance.

How has the pandemic affected DataSelf?

We grew our revenues significantly since early 2020. I believe there are three main driving forces behind this growth. First, mid-sized organizations have been focusing on making informed decisions. Second, the pandemic forced many people to work from home, and our ability to provide easier access to their reports, dashboards, and KPIs, anytime and anywhere, became of even greater value. Third, the pandemic seems to have accelerated companies moving their legacy ERP systems to modern ones. In such transitions, many companies struggle to analyze historical trends. For instance, analyzing the buying pattern of customers in the last couple of years requires running reports in the old and then the new systems. This is slow, time-consuming, and error-prone.

With DataSelf data warehousing, organizations can easily blend and report off their legacy with live data. For instance, at the click of a button, users can see the historical buying patterns of their customers seamlessly. 

How is 2022 looking for you?

From our channel and client base perspective, this year seems to continue the trends from the last couple of years. But there are some interesting new forces in place: first, this year, people are a lot more positive and forward-thinking, especially considering that the pandemic seems to be on its tail end. 

Second, fortunately or not, most of my team has been locked up at home for almost two years now, and parts of that limited social-life has been dedicated to improving our business and processes. We’ve done a significant amount of product innovation since the pandemic started!

We’ve also taken the time to analyze what reports and dashboards are the most used in our client base. And with that, we’ve been educating prospects and clients on the value of such insights — for instance, the importance of keeping a close eye on customers and products that are declining in sales or not selling at all. Or on Daily Flash Dashboards, highlighting today’s threats and opportunities for each manager and/or business area. 

Is DataSelf a different company now than in 2017?

The market has changed quite a bit since 2017! Today, organizations are becoming a lot more data-driven. Many old-school managers are retiring or leaving operations to data-driven people, and the need for easier and better visibility from data is becoming the next big thing. 

Forward-thinking management demands easy access to their data anytime and anywhere, the ability to slice-and-dice their data with little or no training, running a report and seeing the results in seconds, and industry best-practice KPIs [key performance indicators].

Many technology vendors struggle to meet today’s client demands. And that’s where my organization, DataSelf, excels. We’ve been focusing on the challenges mentioned above since 2005. And today, by leveraging data warehousing, Tableau and/or Power BI, and a rich set of industry-best-practice KPI templates, we bring an amount of value at a cost and speed that is unparalleled in the mid-market. 

In 2017, our BI [business intelligence] platform required on average $30k in initial investment, and it would take 30-plus days to get up to speed. Today, we deliver more and better reports and dashboards, the deployment takes less than 30 minutes, we offer 30-day free trials, and our entry-level cost came down to $399/month. Quite an improvement in speed and ROI [return on investment] compared to 2017! 

You mentioned Tableau and Power BI. Why would people care about them?

Last year, the COO of a mid-size distribution company got a call from the VP of sales to discuss a new deal, and the bidding pricing needed a decision right away. They didn’t have access to all the data required to make an informed decision. They set a pricing, won the deal, but later realized that some of the raw materials had gone up in price, and they had to backtrack the deal, damaging the relationship with this large, new client. 

That blow to their business made them look for an easier-to-use data analysis solution, which led them to assess and decide to embrace Tableau. Tableau and Power BI are currently the top two most empowering analytics tools, according to Gartner BI Magic Quadrant — and very popular in the Fortune 2000 market. 

However, making an analogy, Tableau and Power BI are like magic faucets. One can get cold, hot, bubbly, coloured, flavoured, [or] any sort of shape and form of water (data) out of these faucets. But a major technical problem of these faucets is the plumbing. Companies get these fancy faucets, and then spend a ton of energy and time building the plumbing. Now, management doesn’t really care about the faucets or the plumbing — they really want the water in the right shapes and forms at the right time. 

And that’s where DataSelf comes with an amazing value and ROI. Our solution has an extensive and well-developed data plumbing system to [connect to] popular mid-market systems such as Acumatica, Google Analytics, HubSpot, Microsoft Dynamics, NetSuite, Quickbooks, Sage ERP/CRM, Salesforce, and several other source systems. Then we plug Tableau or Power BI into our plumbing and a large library of report, dashboard, and KPI templates. In a matter of minutes, managers have access to lots of best-practice KPIs from a reliable plumbing data feed, using best of breed faucets (analytics tools), which allows managers to easily access their data, anytime and anywhere, and easily slice-and-dice their data with little to no training required. 

Is there something critical about DataSelf that people need to know right now? 

“Without data, you’re just another person with an opinion,” said W. Edwards Deming/Data Scientist. 

If your business is still struggling with the opinion dilemma, today there are many business intelligence solutions that can assist. Do your research, ask your technology vendors, consult with DataSelf. DataSelf is not a fit for everyone, but when it is — boy, we are light-years ahead of the alternative paths. 

Dave Gordon | Contributing Writer

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